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Monday, March 12, 2012

My Head Hurts

In 2007 the American Postal Workers Union praised the passage of something called the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, whose sponsors included a whole host of liberal Democrats. And Susan Collins.

 Receiving particular praise was a provision that ended overpayments to the Civil Service Retirement System. Wrote the APWU at the time:
There is some good news with significant financial impact on the USPS [United States Postal Service]: The new law releases from an escrow account billions of dollars that the USPS has saved by ending overpayments to the Civil Service Retirement System; and it returns to the Treasury responsibility for paying about $27 billion in military service-related retirement benefits for postal workers. (No other federal agency has been required to pay these costs.)

The USPS was saddled with these financial burdens by provisions contained in the Postal Civil Service Retirement System Funding Reform Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-18). The provisions were supposed to be temporary, but the Bush administration insisted they remain in force to make the federal budget deficit appear smaller. Ultimately, the White House relented on its demand.

APWU Legislative Department officers and staff would like to thank senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Susan Collins (R-ME). On the House side, we were fortunate to have the support of representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Tom Davis (R-VA), and John McHugh (R-NY). [emphasis mine]
Now, today, I read in the Roanoke Times of criticism of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. And the criticism comes from none other than the executive vice president of Local 482 of that same American Postal Workers Union.  And in particular the provision that - get this - caused overpayments to the Postal Civil Service Retirement System.

The same overpayments that were eliminated by the 2006 act.

The same 2006 act that received high praise from the APWU.

Because it had eliminated overpayments to the union retirement fund.

But didn't.

Says the executive vice president of Local 482 of the American Postal Workers Union in "Congress must fix the crisis it created" yesterday:
Although first-class mail has declined, the primary cause of the Postal Service's dire financial situation is a mandate imposed by Congress in 2006 that requires USPS to "pre-fund" health benefits for retirees who will retire over the next 75 years. USPS is paying $5.5 billion annually for 10 years to cover this burden.

No other government agency or private business bears this burden. Were it not for that, the Postal Service would have netted a $611 million surplus during fiscal years 2006 to 2010 instead of racking up a $21 billion deficit.

In addition, the Postal Service has overfunded its retirement accounts by more than $50billion to $75billion, and cannot reclaim these funds without congressional authorization.

Congress must repeal the pre-funding requirement, allow the USPS to recover overpayments to its retiree funds and protect service to the American people.

Destroying the USPS network will lead to the demise of the world's largest, most efficient and most trusted ...
So it was a great thing. And now it's an awful thing. It saved the postal system. It's destroying the postal system.

"Congress must fix the crisis it created."

I need to look up the word scapegoat.

I guess it all makes sense.  In some dimension far, far from Planet Earth.